Surge arresters in MV

c what surge arrester for what type of needs? c choosing a surge arrester c where and how to install surge arresters?

c Surge arresters protect electrical installations that are exposed to storms, against atmospheric voltage surges. c Lightning impulses on any section of an electrical network can generate voltage surges on the MV network. c Certain network points and components are particularly sensitive to voltage surges. High impedance loads reflect the voltage wave; the voltage surge may thus be doubled at their terminals. c An MV surge arrester must be installed as soon as there is a possible risk of atmospheric voltage surges. c To be completely efficient, the installation and the surge arrester’s technical data must be optimal.



12/99 B•4•2
revis ed


c LV network. depending on its protection devices. The events that are produced on the transportation network can also have repercussions on the MV network. the possibility and effects of lightning stroke voltage surges should be taken into account for the entire MV network. These voltage surges can occur on all types of overhead networks: c HV network. only if there are parts that are exposed to storms. The MV network to be considered is made up of: c all feeders. c MV network. These voltage surges can be one of two types: a “direct lightning stroke” or an “induced voltage surge”. c telecommunication network. Voltage surges are generated on the MV network. c all parallel circuits.Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? Surge arresters protect electrical installations against atmospheric voltage surges (lightning). Depending on the electrical network’s configuration. c all loads that may be connected to the same HV/MV transformer. voltage surges can spread from one type of network to another. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 2 . HV MV Overhead line feeder Underground cable feeder Even if only one part of the network is above ground.

but does not always limit the peak value. A flashover device.  QQQQ SSSS date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 3 .Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) DIRECT LIGHTNING STROKES A direct lightning stroke consists of the injection of a current wave into the line.   RRRR TTTT .. shunts part of the current.. Depending on the typical impedance of the line. at the isolator or anchoring level on the overhead line.. the current wave generates a voltage surge wave.

The voltage surge is induced in the loop formed by the line and the earth through the magnetic field created by lightning that strikes near the line. for example surge arresters). Example: An induced voltage surge or “indirect lightning stroke” The insulation level of equipment installed on the network must guarantee a lightning impulse withstand. c current tests (for equipment through which a lightning current can flow. The lightning impulse withstand of equipment is characterised using normalised testing: c voltage tests (for equipment which is normally insulating. see MT Partenaire B-1-1. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 4 . an “induced lighting stroke”. for example line insulators).Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) INDUCED VOLTAGE SURGES A voltage surge can also be produced by a lighting stroke that hits close to the line.

in particular concerning their duration. Each part of the network is characterised by its typical impedance: Zc. according to the IEC I 100 % Curve in current (used in laboratory) 50 % 0 8 20 Time in µs Example of a real recording I in kA . Critical points.45 . components insulated MV cable metal-clad substation line 500/800 kV 400 kV 132/220 kV 63 kV 20/30 kV transformer open circuit typical impedance (ohms) 25 . The table below gives typical impedance values for electrical networks.380 400 450 500 . are located at each typical impedance change of the network. which correspond to propagation condition modifications. It characterises the conditions of electromagnetical wave propagation along the conductors.Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) Modelling of lightning impulses. Zc = √ L /C with: L: inductance per unit length C: capacitance per unit length (not taking resistancies and conductancies into account).000 infinite date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 5 .50.50 70 270 300 360 . given in ohms.20 0 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 Time in µs Real lightning impulses may be different from the models used in a laboratory.

At these points. High impedance loads. must be considered as open network points (for example transformers).    ..   transformer X transformer X transformer X 12/99 page 6 . compared to the network’s typical impedance. are still capable of creating stress in an installation above the level for which it was foreseen. transmission and reflection are produced when typical impedancies vary.B• revis ed reflected wave . Special case: opening points on the line force total reflection of the incident wave. waves that have already been contained by a surge arrester.. In certain cases.. 1 time t U overhead line 2 time t + ξ U overhead line dielectrical stress at t + ξ U overhead line date Legend: - incident wave 12/99 4•2 . the superposition of the incident wave and the reflected wave creates local dielectric stress (critical point) which can reach up to twice the wave value.     .Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) Upon each wave propagation phenomenon.

since the insulation goes from a self-restoring insulation (atmospheric air) to a solid non self-restoring isolation (cable) in which flashovers cannot be allowed. by increments. Propagation of the voltage wave to a conductor with a higher typical impedance. up to the theoretical value which is twice the incident peak value (the increments are linked to the multiple reflections inside the substation). is conducted with a transmission coefficient greater than 1. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 7 . the permissible dielectric stress may be surpassed. stress is created by the injection of an increment and calculations show peak voltages that are up to 4 times the flashover voltage. Due to this. calculations show that the voltage in the transformer’s inlet can progressively increase.5 risk of dielectrical fault busbars Zc = 60 Ω I lightning V surge arrestor c If there are no protection and flashover devices.Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) Changing points are all the more critical. Example on an HV network lightning impulse cable Zc = 20 Ω line transmission coefficient = 1. c When a protective gap is used at the substation’s inlet.

the yearly probability for installation faults due to a lighting stroke is inferior to 4%. which guarantees that the withstand voltage of an installation. which is often lower than that of the line or of the supply cable (typically high voltage motors). then the line’s protection devices may be inefficient and the surge arresters need to be installed directly onto the terminals of loads that are to be protected. can be obtained from national meteorological organisations. Risk assessment greatly depends on the user’s (or energy supplier’s) policy. c the probability of receiving a shock is twice a year. These organisations are usually capable of supplying information concerning current values and the statistical distribution of these values. such as protective gaps) between the possible impulse zones and the installation. weak points. and in which there are no other limiting elements (i. This sensitivity comes from their relatively high impedance and from their low withstand voltage.Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) Certain network components should be considered as particularly sensitive to this phenomenon. If voltage surges on the line are estimated at around 50% of component withstands. such as the keraunic level. One should always ask oneself if the consequences of a fault are acceptable or not. A choice can then be made in regards to the acceptable risk. With surge arrester protection. Keraunic level: number of days per year where thunder was heard in one area: c in France: Nk = 20 (average 10 to 30) c in Indonesia: Nk = 180 Lightning stroke density: number of lightning strokes per km2 and per year in France N = 2 to 6 Example: If for an installation for a given region. Statistical data. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 8 . with a current of 5 kA. This mainly concerns installations which are directly subjected to impulses. will not be exceeded. statistics show that: c 2% of lighting strokes have a current above 5 kA.e.

the manufacturer of the damaged switchgear will be doubted and will be asked to replace the material free of charge. Spark gaps are not always satisfactory: c their technical data greatly varies depending on atmospheric conditions. the use of surge arresters is necessary.Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) If a lighting impulse risk exists. with a much higher voltage surge possibility than the necessary level of protection.. Spark gap With a slow impulse. is very different from that of an SF6 or of a solid insulation device that is often used in switchgear. c the peak value for a limited wave depends on the rise speed of the voltage wave. air pollution and electrode settings. This voltage must always be 20% lower than the dielectric withstand value of the equipment to be protected. Each time such an accident happens.. page 9 - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 . This behaviour.6 x Uo Voltage wave without spark gap t Lightning impulse with flashover of the spark gap Uo Voltage at the terminals of the spark gap 100 µs t date This means that switchgear can be destroyed through internal flashover. even if the protective gap is in good condition. c the level of protection is not precise and the equipment may undergo severe stress. due to the air’s ionisation mode. if the wave from the lightning impulse has a rapid current rise front. U Quick wave: the wave may reach voltage value higher than Uo without flashover Lightning impulse without flashover of the spark gap Flashover points of the spark gap Uo Quick voltage wave Slow voltage wave 100 µs U Flashover at 1. The drawing below shows the time/voltage data for a spark gap in the air. the protective gap’s flashover voltage is constant and indicated with the letters Uo. It is easier to discuss the subject matter before any accident occurs.

the several Megohm withstand and the current. Current through the lightning arrester 5 kA Voltage across the lightning arrestor terminals 15 kV 75 kV protection level MCOV (Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage) Lightning arrester technology Terminal Active parts (ZnO ceramic blocs) Conductive spacers (aluminium) Internal insulating screen External enclosure (porcelain or synthetic) Spring to maintain contact quality date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 10 . which remains low (in the realm of mA). the withstand greatly drops (up to roughly 5 or 10 ohms). c under voltage surge conditions. c under normal service conditions. limits dissipated power.Surge arresters in MV WHAT SURGE ARRESTER FOR WHAT TYPE OF NEEDS? (cont’d) Using surge arrester is a better answer: c zinc oxide (ZnO) surge arresters act like strongly non-linear resistors. thus limiting the voltage in surge arrester terminals and therefore in the equipment for the duration needed for the lightning current to runoff to the earth.

It can be much higher as long as the voltage level of protection devices supplies the remainder acceptable for the installation. This performance is given by a current impulse withstand. The voltage value which can be reached when lightning hits must be sufficiently low as to reserve a safety margin in regards to the withstand voltage of equipment. at the surge arrester terminals. The choice of a surge arrester should take into consideration the voltage between the conductors and the earth (phase to neutral voltage) whereas in general the service voltage of the network is given in phase to phase voltage.Surge arresters in MV CHOOSING A SURGE ARRESTER THREE CHARACTERISTICS ARE TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WHEN CHOOSING A SURGE ARRESTER: – The MCOV value in kV (greater than the service voltage) The Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage (MCOV) provided by the manufacturer ensures that the power is maintained within the design’s limits and that there is no thermal runaway that can lead to permanent damage of the surge arrester. The surge arrester’s MCOV must be greater than (or equal to) the service voltage of the network in consideration. Ineffective cabling can lead to voltages in the equipment’s terminals that are considerably higher than the surge arrester’s residual voltage. the level of protection is defined by a pair of values (for example 80 kV/10 kA). A compromise can be found between a higher MCOV and a level of protection that is nevertheless satisfactory. while a given current is flowing through it. Typically. The margin must be at least 20% and should take the surge arrester’s installation mode and cabling into account. due to voltage drops in stray impedencies. ˜ Thermal withstand It aims at guaranteeing the non-destruction of the surge arrester in the case of a long impulse (greater than the normalised test impulse). — The supplied level of protection The effectiveness of surge arrester protection is measured by the residual voltage. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 11 .

5 50 kA % 0 8 20 Time in µs date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 12 .Surge arresters in MV CHOOSING A SURGE ARRESTER (cont’d) Example of 3 necessary characteristics for choosing a surge arrester (taken from the specifications of an energy supplier) c MCOV (Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage) = 15 kV c Level of protection 75 kV/5 kA Current through the lightning arrester 5 kA Service voltage Voltage across the lightning arrestor terminals 75 kV level of protection 15 kV MCOV c Impulse withstand 65 kA (8/20 µs) to cover the case of an impulse of 5 kA (200 µs) I 65 kA 100 % According to IEC 37.

V connection V lightning arrestor Lightning current V connection Load Dielectrical stress of the load The lighting current runs off to the earth through the surge arrester’s circuit. Depending on the connections’ lengths. then the voltage along the connection is 10 kV per metre. the load may rapidly reach a voltage that is greater than the load’s dielectric withstand.Surge arresters in MV WHERE AND HOW TO INSTALL SURGE ARRESTERS? The circuit equivalent to the connection point for a surge arrester is presented by the diagram below:. Example: if the earthing conductor has an inductance of 1 µH/m and if the lightning stroke has a front of 10 kA/µs. The voltage at load terminals is the sum of connection voltages and the surge arrester voltage. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed 12/99 page 13 .

the surge arrester should be as close as possible to the zone that is to be protected. barre — cable connection to the earthing busbar earthing busbar the earthing connection is done close the lightning arrestor terminal NO YES The surge arrester must be installed very close to critical points on the network: c junction between overhead and underground lines.. For additional information. please refer to cahier technique no. the load’s voltage at terminals is thus the surge arrester’s voltage. c transformer terminals. Since surge arresters set the voltage of their own terminals.. c substation inlets. For medium voltage.Surge arresters in MV WHERE AND HOW TO INSTALL SURGE ARRESTERS? (cont’d) Rules for installing a surge arrester Two principles: reduce as much as possible the connection voltages by reducing the path that the lightning will follow. the maximum distance is in the realm of 25 meters. – Lightning current NO YES connect the load directly to the surge arrester terminals. 151 “voltage surges and insulation co-ordination”. date - 12/99 B•4•2 revis ed Due to the velocity of this phenomenon.. page 14 12/99 .

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